One of the most highly-anticipated trade international trade fair in the world is the Canton Fair. Held twice a year – one in April and another in October – the Canton Fair is the ultimate importers and suppliers’ hub and has been around for more than 50 years.
Every year, more than 180,000 buyers and importers flock to Guangzhou (where the much-anticipated trade fair was held) to explore more than 60,000 supplier participants. The major trade event is so big, it is held for almost two weeks. Just visit the fair and you’ll see how big – literally and figuratively – this trade event is.
This article will walk you through one of the business world’s most anticipated trade fair. Among the information you need to know about the Canton Fair include the trade fair schedules, recommended places to stay during the trade fair period, and what to do to make the best out of your Canton Fair experience.
Time and Sections of the Canton Fair 2019
As mentioned, the Canton Fair is held twice a year, in April and October. The fair is usually open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm per day, but you can also check out the fair’s official website for any possible schedule changes. To have an idea of how literally big the Canton Fair is, it is said to be equivalent to about 280 football fields combined!
This year, the Canton Fair (Spring edition) will be held from April 15 to May 5, 2019. It will be divided into three phases over the course of two weeks:
Phase 1 : April 15-19, 2019 – Automotive and Parts, Hardware & Tools
Phase 2 : April 23-27, 2019 – Consumer goods, Gifts, Home Decorations
Phase 3 : May 1- 5, 2019 – Office Supplies, Sporting & Outdoors
Meanwhile, the Canton Fair (Fall edition) will be held from October 15 to November 4, 2019. Again, it will be divided into three phases and the same line-up will follow:
Phase 1 : October 15-19, 2019 – Automotive and Parts, Hardware & Tools
Phase 2 : October 23-27, 2019 – Consumer goods, Gifts, Home Decorations
Phase 3 : October 31 – November 4 – Office Supplies, Sporting & Outdoors
Attending the Spring edition of the Fair is perfect for finding products you can sell (or even use personally) in time for Christmas. On the other hand, going to the Fall edition of the Canton Fair is ideal for buying products you can sell for next year. If you live in a tropical country, April and October have the right temperature – kind of warm and humid but not too hot.
Under Phase 1, you will find the following sections:
• Energy resources
• Chemical products
• Building and construction materials
• Hardware and tools
• Automotive and spare parts
• Lighting equipment
• Home appliances and electronic items
• International pavilion
On the other hand, you can find the following on Phase 2 of the Fair:
• Home décor
• Gifts and novelty items
• Consumer goods
Lastly, you can find the following products on Phase 3 of the Fair:
• Medical and health products
• Office supplies
• Bags, recreational and leisure products
• Shoes and apparel
• International pavilion
Given the different trade fair phases, you can expect to encounter higher customer traffic during Phase 2 of the Canton Fair. Phase 2 is also popular among Amazon and other online sellers since these focuses on consumer goods.
Nonetheless, whichever phase you go to depends on the type of business and requirements you need. Then again, you can go to all three phases if you want to explore other industries (if you have more time in your hands, of course).
How to Get to the Canton Fair and Where to Stay
The Canton Fair is held in Guangzhou, one of the three major Chinese cities. It is also near Hong Kong. So, if you are staying in Hong Kong, you can get to Guangzhou in less than an hour (from Kowloon). You can also check out online for train schedules in China that leads to Guangzhou.
However, it is important to have a multiple entry visa for China since Hong Kong is technically another country separate from the former. On a positive note, foreigners who will come from Western countries are not required to have a visa to go to Hong Kong.
In Guangzhou, you will surely not experience room shortage given that the city is home to more than 10 million citizens and tourists combined. However, it is still best to book a hotel at least a month before your scheduled visit to the Fair. Some hotels are much closer to the Canton Fair area, but you may have to pay at least $300 per night excluding meals. But at least the Internet is free.
If you have a business, it is often recommended to visit major trade fairs such as this one. However, there are some exemptions which will be discussed later on. Nevertheless, visiting at least one trade show in China is a good move especially if you want to grow your business.
For one, you can find a lot of suppliers which are mostly not advertised online. More often than not, finding a supplier online increases the chances of competition with other companies offering similar products as you are. Attending trade fairs also give you the chance to meet the suppliers in the flesh.
At the same time, you can easily build a good working relationship with them and prove you are serious with finding a reliable supplier. You won’t likely get ignored by a supplier who’s participating in trade fairs.
However, if you are catering to a different industry that is not present in the Canton Fair, you can try attending other fairs. To get the list of other trade shows in China, you can check it out online.
How to Be More Effective on Canton Fair
If there’s one important thing you should remember when you are about to attend the Canton Fair, it is to wear comfortable shoes. Expect to be walking a lot in the entire fair complex, especially if you intend to explore all the participating booths there. Here are other tips to make the most out of your time in the Canton Fair:
1. Check whether you need a VISA.
Most Western countries are free to enter Hong Kong and China. Chinese VISAs nowadays have a 10-year validity, which means you can use it for a longer time. Just to be sure, you can check whether your country requires a VISA to enter the said countries. Apply at least a month before your intended visit to the Fair.
2. Take note that you are required to register to enter the Fair.
Registration costs about $20 or 100 RMB in local currency. After registration, you will receive a badge although you still have to pick it up personally at the Fair. The badge is also reusable for future fair sessions, so it is important to keep it carefully.
3. Know when to go or not to go to the Trade Fair.
It is ideal to go to the Canton Fair if:
• You are looking for suppliers via online and want to expand your search by attending such major trade fairs
• You have current suppliers that will be participating in the Fair and you intend to meet them in person
• You are looking forward to having a business-related visit to China
• You are importing mostly consumer-market goods
On the other hand, you may not need to go to the Canton Fair if:
• You cater to other industries that are not present in the Fair (ex. Hunting and Fishing goods). You can attend other fairs that cater to those markets instead.
• You have little time in your hands and you intend to go to other cities in China for other business agenda
4. Talk to as many suppliers as you can.
After taking notes, you can visit these prospective suppliers the next day and discuss things in detail. Some suppliers even rent out hotel rooms that will serve as temporary mini-showrooms for business visitors. For such business deals with potential suppliers, give yourself at least two days.
5. Dress accordingly.
As mentioned, be prepared to walk and stand a lot during the Fair. It is also important to wear comfortable shoes and clothing. You will also need a backpack to carry items you will be given on the event, as well as bring several business cards, a fully-charged mobile phone, and the fair badge.
These are only some things you can expect when you attend the Canton Fair. If you have a business, it is highly-advisable to attend this annual fair to help achieve your business goals.